In 2022, The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that net migration in the UK has reached a record annual level of 606,000. This figure is slightly smaller than predicted and is a decrease from the previous year. In 2021, the figure for net migration was approximately 780,000; meaning there was a decrease of 164,000 people between 2021 and 2022. About 114,000 of these arrivals were from Ukraine to the UK, and approximately 52,000 people came to the UK from Hong Kong. Despite the decrease in net migration levels, the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, discusses migration levels and claims that the UK government needs to "bring them down", because "numbers are too high, it's as simple as that". However, Sunak has denied that immigration levels are out of control in the UK. Yvette Cooper, the shadow home Secretary for the Labour Party, has said that government has "no plan and no grip on immigration" when discussing the high level of net migration in the UK. According to the latest data collected on 25th May 2023, the number of people awaiting processing of their asylum claims has risen by a shocking quantity: this statistic rose from 6500 to 172,000. This rise correlates with the change in UK migration legislation and implies that the amendments made haven't decreased the quantity of people seeking asylum in the UK, but instead has merely slowed down the process of this for those seeking refuge. Similarly, there were 76,000 asylum applications made in 2022. Interestingly, in the first three months of 2023, out of "small boat" to the UK, Afghans made up the largest proportion according to the Home Office data. Sunak's government has changed the policies relating to visa rules for overseas students, with the hope of reducing migration levels. From 2024, only students on post-graduate research programmes will be able to bring their family with them to their UK studies. On 25th May 2023, the ONS claimed that out of the 925,000 non-EU nationals that arrived in the UK in 2022, just under 40% were on students’ visas. In 2011, David Cameron's Conservative government pledged to decrease net migration to below 100,000. This government later doubled down on these hopes in their 2019 manifesto, yet the proposed target hasn't been met. There has been ample criticism of the government's handling of migrants, immigrants, and asylum seekers. Arthur Torrington, a co-founder and director at the Windrush Foundation, came to the UK in the 1960s as a teenager after migrating from Guyana. Torrington was interviewed by BBC Radio 4 (World at One) about his experience in the UK, and his perspective on latest government legislation and attitudes. Torrington spoke from his perspective, claiming that: "there was an atmosphere of unwelcome, and not wanting to welcome anyone coming from the Caribbean". Similarly, Sajeela Kershi, a comedian who was also at BBC Radio 4's World at One programme, stated that: "it's sad... to see the same negative connotation around immigrants that we had back in the day".
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